NCEAS Carbon Sequestration Working Group: Second Meeting

Dates: January 27 - 30, 1999


Joseph Tosi

Vicente Watson

Arturo Sanchez

Alex Pfaff

Suzi Kerr

David Schimel

Our second meeting was intense and we made a lot of concrete progress as well as raising many more interesting questions and avenues for exploration. We were extremely grateful for the smooth operation of NCEAS, which allowed us to focus our time and energies on the substantive not the logistic. We also greatly appreciated the opportunity to relax over delicious dinners after long days of vigorous discussion. The use of the NCEAS van allowed us to escape in the evenings and see a little more of the area (albeit in the dark).

On practical matters, the group identified several new approaches/sources for follow-on funding and discussed the dissemination of the results we are currently generating. We agreed to immediately put together an ‘ideas’ paper laying out the theory behind our study and the basic methodology and illustrating it with our preliminary results.

We were very pleased that both Dave Schimel and Arturo Sanchez were able to attend this meeting after missing the first. Their input in the project and at the meeting is critical. The meeting began with a discussion led by Suzi Kerr on the debate in Buenos Aires on the inclusion of carbon ‘sinks’, through sequestration in tropical forest, in the Clean Development Mechanism. She also gave some feedback on the progress of the IPCC report on forest sinks. Extensive discussion of the policy issues relating to the design of carbon sink credits ensued.

Detailed discussion of both a literature review prepared by Joseph Tosi and Vicente Watson and Dave Schimel’s Century model led us to a much more sophisticated understanding of the ecological processes we are trying to model and the nature of the challenges. We both clarified the type of results we can most usefully seek and also identified two additional people who may be able to help us with particular aspects of the problem (Shugang Liu and Flint Hughes).

Detailed discussion of the GIS data available for Costa Rica, led by Arturo Sanchez, clarified exactly what the data represents, where it is stronger and weaker and what data we could seek that we do not currently have access to. The discussion between those whose models use the data and those who know the data intimately was extremely valuable. Alex Pfaff and Suzi Kerr presented the work they have done so far on land use changes using the data set Arturo Sanchez is constructing. The discussion with those with local historical knowledge and deep knowledge of the data sources led to significant changes in the future direction of the analysis.

The meeting was motivational for all of us, making us realise how much we have achieved already and how our strong empirical-grounding can potentially offer a uniquely credible basis for international policy on carbon sinks. Since the meeting we have all made significant progress, have been in frequent contact and hope to have integrated results to discuss at the next meeting as well as submitting a couple of articles in the meantime. Thanks again to all the NCEAS staff who helped make this another successful meeting.